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Crisis Solutions from Verizon

Written by Susan Geoghegan

As the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards, 4G technology provides a secure, comprehensive, all-IP solution that gives users access to enhanced telecommunication services. Pre-4G technologies, such as WiMAX, first-release Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 3GPP LTE, are frequently referred to as 4G, despite the fact that they do not comply with the IMT-Advanced requirements as defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Technically, 4G LTE is an evolved version of LTE that provides interoperability with other radio systems, worldwide roaming capability, and peak rates that support advanced mobile services and applications. The 4G LTE technology and its impact on law enforcement were demonstrated at the 2010 IACP convention by both Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

In December of 2010, Verizon Wireless launched the world’s first large-scale 4G LTE network in 38 metropolitan areas and airports across the United States. Touted as the most advanced 4G network in America, it provides speeds up to 10 times faster than the company’s previous 3G network. Verizon predicts 4G LTE average data rates in real-world, loaded network environments to be 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) on the downlink, and 2 to 5 Mbps on the uplink. With plans to continue to add service throughout 2011, Verizon Wireless expects 4G LTE to reach the entire existing 3G coverage area by 2013.

4G LTE and Law Enforcement

Higher data rates, expanded coverage, simultaneous user support and enhanced security are just a few of the advantages of Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network. As the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards, LTE minimizes multi-user interference and provides greater opportunities for seamless international roaming. With enabled video application on both the downlink and uplink, users have access to optimized video-sharing, surveillance, conferencing and high-definition streaming.

While today’s 3G technology provides enhanced communications capabilities, the impact of 4G LTE technology on law enforcement and public safety will be far-reaching and powerful. Access to rich media information, enhanced collaboration capabilities and advanced mobile applications will result in greater productivity. Database queries will provide instant information-rich reports complete with pictures and videos to first responders on their wireless hand-held devices.

Deployed over Verizon’s nationwide 700 MHz spectrum, 4G LTE gives law enforcement the ability to run multiple data sessions simultaneously at much faster speeds. Anywhere, anytime connectivity will provide seamless interoperability communications at local, state and national levels.

Although public safety agencies already experience improved interoperability with 3G networking, 4G LTE will enable applications that previously could not be run on wireless devices. LTE’s lower user-plane latency (which refers to IP packet transmission speeds) provides a direct service advantage for highly immersive or interactive application environments. With real-time video feeds, instant downloading of blueprints and schematics, and cross-functional teleconferencing, emergency response teams will have greater situational awareness, ensuring a more coordinated response, with reduced risk.

Verizon Wireless creates solutions that blend voice communication, unit coordination, evidence documentation and unified dispatch for advanced interoperability at every level of public safety. Verizon’s IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) Core technology provides a shared infrastructure that accommodates multiple applications and allows any devices anywhere to be tied together for effective communication.

Push-to-Talk Phones

The advanced interoperability features of Verizon Wireless’ Push to Talk (PTT) technology allow public safety personnel to better coordinate their resources during daily operations and mission-critical events. With the simple push of a button, users can check a colleague’s availability to receive a PTT call and connect with as many as 50 team members.

Voice calls can be sent and received without the use of a second device or phone number. Connecting to Verizon’s nationwide broadband network, PTT offers coast-to-coast coverage and is interoperable with existing Land Mobile Radio (LMR) assets. While there is an endless array of PTT devices from which to choose, public safety agencies need a durable phone that can stand up to harsh conditions.

The Casio G’zOne Rock™ and G’zOne Brigade™ phones provide enhanced communications and meet military specifications against water, humidity, fog, dust, shock and vibration, altitude, and extreme temperatures. The Rock comes with a suite of applications, such as an earth compass and a thermometer with both Fahrenheit and Celsius measurements.

Verizon’s Field Force Manager, a location-based resource management tool, combined with the PTT service provides better workforce management from the field. VZ Navigator-capable with a 2.0 MP camera, the G’zOne Rock is an ideal choice for law enforcement, military and fire/rescue operations.

The Brigade offers a QWERTY keyboard for texting, a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash, and visual voicemail capability. Features include enhanced voice, data and video; an HTML browser; and a document viewer. Like the Rock, the Brigade is Field Force Manager ready and GPS-enabled. Although the Rock and Brigade operate with 3G technology, they are still considered excellent choices for law enforcement use.

4G LTE-compatible smartphones available from Verizon Wireless are scheduled to hit the market by mid-2011. Exclusive to Verizon Wireless, the HTC ThunderBolt is the first phone with integrated video Skype mobile™, providing anytime, anywhere connectivity with no Wi-Fi required. Features include HTC Sense 2.0; an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus; HD video recording; and a hi-res, 4.3-inch WVGA display. Powered by a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and running on the Android 2.2 platform, the ThunderBolt is also DLNA capable.

The LG Revolution is also Android™ 2.2 equipped with a 4.3-inch TFT touch screen. It provides HD support for streaming, playing and recording video, and is DLNA, HDMI and DVIX compatible. Other features include video telephony support with a front-facing camera, as well as mobile hotspot capability to share a 4G connection with up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Another powerful new Android smartphone, the DROID Bionic 4G packs a dual core processor with each core running at 1 GHz. A full-featured work device, the Bionic 4G allows users to securely access productivity tools, conference calls, and a full suite of Google applications and services. It offers a front-facing VGA camera and See What I See feature, as well as a rear-facing 8 MP camera for still and video. Other features include HDMI connectivity, HTML5 support and 512 MB RAM.

According to Domenic DeMark, vice president of public safety strategy for Verizon Wireless, PTT technology provides critical voice communications but recognizes a trend toward data-centric devices that allow for an increased use in data as well as voice. “This will become even more valuable with Verizon’s 4G LTE network, enabling those in public safety to access critical, interactive multimedia applications, such as real-time video. Verizon Wireless is building a 4G LTE ecosystem where the best network, the best applications and the best devices will provide ubiquitous and unparalleled connectivity and mobility,” DeMark said.

InterActPocketCop

Formerly known as PocketCop from BIO-key International, the InterActPocketCop gives law enforcement quick, secure access for NCIC, motor vehicle and other database queries. This fully integrated mobile data system allows officers in the field, investigators and command-level staff to get time-critical information without dispatcher involvement and delayed verbal response.

Beyond the obvious potential threat to officer safety during traffic stops, exposure to cars passing the scene poses a real danger. By using InterActPocketCop, officers on vehicle, foot, motorcycle or mounted patrol will spend less time checking identities and writing citations, resulting in decreased risk and increased safety.

InterActPocketCop is interoperable with the InterActMobile solution for in-vehicle laptops, allowing all users to connect on all devices. With CAD integration, users can receive dispatch information and status updates directly from InterActCAD or any other computer-aided dispatch system. It supports all InterActMobile federal NCIC and state queries, such as person, vehicle and boat registration, and gun registration.

Relevant information returned includes personal data, wanted and warrants notices, stolen vehicle information, and DVM data and history. Silent, secure communication between officers and dispatch ensures immediate delivery of critical information via messaging, announcements and e-mail.

When operating on the Verizon Wireless network, InterActPocketCop is a powerful application that provides reliable, immediate and secure mobile access to critical databases. In 2009, as part of a pilot program initiated by the Baltimore Police Department, Verizon Wireless provided 80 officers with Blackberry® Smartphones equipped with InterActPocketCop.

The department wanted a mobile solution that would get officers out of their patrol cars and onto the street to promote closer interaction with the community, while providing them with secure access to detailed law enforcement information. Gayle Guildford, director of MIS for the Baltimore Police Department, said the success of the six-month pilot program led to the acquisition of stimulus money, which was used to roll out 2,080 InterActPocketCop-enabled Blackberrys in 2010.

According to Melanie Ortel, associate director of public relations for Verizon Wireless, the company’s data teams worked closely with the Baltimore PD and the developer in extended trials to customize the solution. “As a complement to PocketCop, the Baltimore Police Department also implemented Verizon’s Field Force Manager GPS solution. This product allows BPD to run management-level GPS mapping, reporting and tracking functionalities from a Web-based interface, ensuring the response time and safety of their officers,” Ortel said.

As part of the Baltimore PD’s MIS division, Sergeant Sheree Briscoe was responsible for training officers in the use of the Blackberry and its applications. She pointed out that the ability to access these applications through a compact, handheld device makes it a highly effective policing tool.

Having been in the field herself, she finds the quick return of information, as well as the GPS officer location feature, crucial to ensuring officer safety. Briscoe’s advice for agencies interested in this type of mobile technology is to do a thorough diagnosis of the agency’s needs before deciding on a solution. That being said, she suggests they give serious consideration to the Blackberry device and the InterActPocketCop application.

Catalyst Communications Technologies

Founded in 1977, Catalyst Communications Technologies provides Radio Control over IP (RCoIP) solutions to the mobile radio industry for public safety, government, energy, transportation and other commercial industries. With robust architecture, customizable user interfaces, and 24/7 critical communications grade support, Catalyst systems are highly scalable and IP network friendly.

A flexible hardware and software solution that offers ease of use and enhanced functionality, the system consists of advanced radio gateway servers and remote client user interface software which interfaces with the gateways through a wide area network (WAN).
Catalyst gateways support most radio types and protocols and are compatible with both uni-cast and multi-cast IP networks.

As stated by Domenic DeMark, Catalyst Communications and Verizon Wireless have formed a business solution alliance that “closes the gap” between LMR and PTT devices, providing clear, reliable communication for law enforcement and other first responders working in public safety. LMR technology provides dependability within its coverage area, but communication with coworkers outside the range requires IP-based interoperability and dispatch solutions. Catalyst’s IntelliLink™ client is a patching application that interconnects incompatible and disparate LMR and cellular PTT network resources, regardless of radio technology, frequency or distance.

It allows police personnel outside the coverage area to communicate with their LMR users through the Verizon Wireless Push to Talk network. Additionally, enhanced applications, such as e-mail and location-based services like VZ Navigator, can also be accessed via a PTT phone.

Catalyst also provides innovative solutions for freeing up LMR network capacity without resorting to expensive system upgrades or replacements. By integrating with Verizon Wireless Push to Talk networking, the Catalyst solution moves less critical city departments, such as animal control and public works, to the PTT network, freeing up the LMR network for critical communications among emergency personnel.

IntelliLink gives users the ability to add and delete channels from an existing patch, or create new patches from scratch. It allows enabling and disabling of both new and existing patches, as well as simultaneous activation of multiple patches. With Catalyst’s digital radio control, specific groups or even specific channels can be selected as a patch member and each communication path specified as bi-directional or uni-directional. Because Catalyst’s dispatch applications work on the same system hardware as the interoperability solution, upgrades to support LMR, Verizon Wireless PTT, or both, are easily integrated.

IP\Console™ and Desktop Dispatch™ are the two other applications that complete the Catalyst solution. Designed to handle critical communications, the IP\Console is an advanced, full-feature RCoIP dispatch system that fully supports most LMR radio system technologies, as well as Verizon Push to Talk.

The systems administrator designs the console configuration on a user-by-user basis, and configurations can be stored on an administrative server and accessed by console positions as required. The customizable user interface leaves space on the computer screen to monitor other applications, resulting in improved dispatcher efficiency and reduced operator errors.

Catalyst’s backup and mobile dispatch solution, Desktop Dispatch\Console, can be used for dispatch backup or as a supplement to existing dispatch operations. This compact application is easily installed on any standard Windows PC with IP access. Designed for low bandwidth usage, it is the ideal solution for mobile command center dispatching. Other features include select and unselect audio; footswitch and headset compatibility; group, individual and simulselect transmission; and call logging.

By providing interoperability solutions on the Verizon Wireless network, Catalyst Communications provides police and public safety agencies with reliable nationwide voice networking. According to Catalyst President Robin Grier, “Coverage has always been a huge issue for public safety and other mission-critical voice agencies, and Verizon Wireless has exceptional reliability.

“Now Catalyst provides an intelligent link between that service and existing LMR radio systems to not only extend coverage, but add a host of new capabilities.” Verizon Wireless works with other vendors in addition to Catalyst that have similar technologies, such as LinkComm, JPS Raytheon and Cisco.

Susan Geoghegan is a freelance writer living in Naples, Fla. She can be reached at sgeofl@embarqmail.com.

Published in Law and Order, Jun 2011

Rating : 8.5


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